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[Page 216]

Dovid Lencicki (Dawid Leczycki),[1] z”l

By G. Waldman

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

Dawid was born, in 1894, to his parents, Reb [title of respect] Natan and Miriam Leczycki, z”l (zal––may the memory be blessed), in the shtetl of Ujazd near Tomaszow Mazowiecki. Being a son of Hasidic parents, from God-fearing and sincere people, he received a strong religious education. At the age of eight, he began to study Gemore (commentary on the Mishnah). He possessed an excellent memory. Even in the latter years of his life, he remembered what he had studied with the melamdim [teachers] in kheydorim [religious schools] in the little shtetl Ujazd.

Since his parents' earnings were meager, they moved to Brzezin. Reb Natan Leczycki, z”l, bought a buttonhole machine and became a buttonhole maker. In those years, fine, Hasidic young people took up that trade. Dawid continued to study with melamdim in kheyder until he was thirteen or fourteen years old. Then he had to contribute toward making a living, and he, also, became a buttonhole maker. In 1914, the Great World War broke out. The Brzeziner accessories industry came to a standstill. Understand, that this also happened to the Leczycki family; they looked for a new way to eke out a living––with new worries.

The Prussian Junkers [wealthy aristocrats], who ruled Poland at that time, ruined the Jewish means of making a living in a vicious, cruel manner. However, they permitted the youth to engage in cultural activites, such as, for example, opening libraries. In that way, Brzeziners got permission to open a library. The writer of these recollections and Dawid Leczycki took on the task of collecting books for the library. We gathered up several hundred books. Dawid was a great enthusiast in the reading of Yiddish literature. He had read all the classic Yiddish writers and remembered them well. This also contributed to his ethnic consciousness in his later years.

In 1929, Dawid left Brzezin and went to Brussels, Belgium, where he worked as a buttonhole maker. After five months, he brought his family there as well. Dawid Leczycki's house, during the time he lived there, served as a characteristically Jewish hospitable home for all Brzeziners who came to Belgium by chance or were passing through as their exile spurred them to wander. Dawid and his wife, Chajce, z”l, possessed the special, traditonal Jewish quality of welcoming and offering hospitality to all Brezeziners who crossed their threshold.

Dawid, through his honest work, gave his children a higher education; he also knew how to influence his children to remain resolutely faithful Jews and not be swept along by the stream of assimilation in strange surroundings. He prepared them to become Eretz Isroel-like chalucim [pioneers] and liberators in the difficult struggle of the battle for liberation.

 

brz216.jpg -   Dovid Lencicki

 

They certainly felt and still continue to feel it. During the time Dawid lived in Belgium, he was active in the Zionist movement and also in his line of business; all the members of his family supported and honored him for his activities. Unfortunately, Hitler's era ruined his health and that of his wife. Dawid was left with a bad heart. His wife died in 1948.

Dawid came to Isroel in 1949 and settled into his trade. He married again and had and lived a beautiful, honorable life. His children treated his gracious, respectable home with honor.

Dawid Leczycki, z”l, was an advocate of the idea of a Yizkor Sefer [memorial book] of Brzezin and contributed important documents to the book that now lies before you, like his chapter about “Tailoring Families.” Unfortunately, however, he did not live to see the realization of his idea.

Shabes [Sabbath], the 29th of March, 1958, he began to feel ill, and he died within two days on the first of April, 1958, 11 Nisan 5718. [Hebrew date].

Let us honor his memory!


[Pages 217 -218]

The Matseyve [Tombstone] on Mount Zion

by Jakob David Berg

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

When the tombstone was erected, our landsman [fellow countryman] Mojsze-Icek Ginzberg delivered a hesped [eulogy] for the martyrs from our shtetl. In his eulogy, he said:

Brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, our dear and devoted friends. We, the sheyres-hapleyte [survivors] from our town, Brzezin, have today convened on the mountain of Jerusalem, Har-Hatsofim,[2] in Martef haShoah [Chamber of the Holocaust] to pay final tribute to our annihilated community and to consecrate their memory by the placement of a memorial tombstone.

We fulfill our holy duty to the future ages, in this holy moment, as their purified souls are now here with us and soar above our heads. They proclaim to us and to the coming generations, the people of Israel, the great exhortation, “Jews, be strong. Be as steadfast as an armored outer wall; stretch out your brotherly hand one to the other so that such a terrible tragedy shall not, kholile [God forbid], happen again in our history.”

They, the virtuous souls, say to us as we stand here now, “Be brave.”

We, the survivors, are full of pain and sorrow. In this difficult time, we shed tears over their terrible fate. Here we stand next to the dishonored seyfritoyre [Torah scrolls], near the soap that was made from the exhausted bodies of our virtuous parents and of our small children—who could not distinguish good from bad, near the venom with which they poisoned them, near the coats sewn from seyfritoyre in which was written “Thou Shall Not Kill,” near the bloody talesim [prayer shawls] in which Jews had wrapped themselves and prayed early every morning for the world and humanity, to reform the world through the ruler God Almighty. Together with the six million Jews, they were murdered by the villains.

At this moment, as we stand on Har-Tsion [Mount Zion] in Jerusalem, the symbol of peace, we want to cry out so that those who are the conscience of the world might shudder, beat their chests, and repent, crying out, “Ashamnu” [We have sinned] …

There are scarcely any Jewish souls left from our Brzeziner Jews. We, the survivors, the living orphans, eternally pledge to you, “As long as we breathe and our eyes see the light of the sunrise, our hearts and thoughts will be turned to the tombstone on Har-Tsion in Martef haShoah in Jerusalem, this holy place.”

And to all these memorial stones for the destroyed communities, which the survivors have placed to honor their memory; to all those who were annihilated as tragically as our own dear ones, eternal in a common fate, we pledge, in this sad moment, that we will come and pay homage, with pain in our hearts, before the caskets of earth and ashes and before the tombstone that we unveiled today in memory of the destroyed community of Brzezin.

 

brz217.jpg -   This tombstone was placed on Har-Tsion in memory of the communities that were destroyed
This tombstone was placed on Har-Tsion in memory
of the communities that were destroyed

 


May I be permitted to convey here, in a few words, what I myself experienced when I participated in the laying of this symbolic tombstone on Har-Tsion in Jerusalem for the martyrs of our shtetl.

When you come into Martef haShoah, into the “Cave of Horror,” and you see the yortsayt [memorial] candles that are lit there for the destroyed communities—grieving in your heart from mourning and pain, and tears flowing from your eyes over the terrible destruction—the holy images of the victims of the Nazi beasts appear before your eyes. You are reminded of your relatives and friends who were suffocated in the gas chambers and thrown into ovens with lime. You feel your souls fluttering here, in the Martef haShoah, on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.

 

brz218a.jpg -   At a yiskor gathering in 'Shikkun Brzezin' [Brzeziny apartment project] for the martyrs of our holy community
At a yiskor gathering in Shikkun Brzezin [Brzeziny
apartment project] for the martyrs of our holy community

 

In a corner lie bloodied talesim that were brought from the death camps, torn sheets of parchment from Torah scrolls rescued from the dreadful destruction. Small matseyves of marble were erected here, grouped together. Each tombstone recalls a shtetl of Jews who were massacred and died a violent martyr's death.

We, too, have erected a tombstone for the destroyed community martyrs from our shtetl Brzezin. A large number of our landslayt [fellow townsmen] in Eretz Isroel came to Jerusalem, to Har-Tsion, to dedicate this tombstone. The arrangements were made by our esteemed landsman Ginzberg. Among those gathered were those who themselves had experienced dreadful suffering in the Nazi camps and were, by some miracle, saved. They still carry with them the scars of their torment.

With broken hearts, in tribute to the memory of the martyrs from our shtetl, we stand on Har-Tsion at the unveiling of the tombstone. Our landsman in Israel, Ginzberg, gave a moving funeral oration in Hebrew. He turned over to me the unveiling of the tombstone. And I eulogized, in Yiddish, the massacred brothers and sisters from our shtetl—as the representative of our landslayt in America and over the entire world.

Full of sorrow, we parted, promising each other to honor for eternity the memory of the martyrs from our home shtetl.

May the few words concerning what I experienced on Har-Tsion in Jerusalem find their place in the memorial sefer that we publish about our shtetl, establishing a permanent memorial for future generations.
brz218b.jpg

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. In Israel, Dawid Leczycki (with a slash on the “L” and a tail on the “e” in Leczycki [pronounced Wenchitski], became Dovid Lencicki. Return
  2. This may be an error. Har-Hatsofim is Mt. Scopus, located to the north of Jerusalem. The Chamber of the Holocaust is located to the south on Har-Zion [Mount Zion], as mentioned later. Return

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